By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley: The star power carried the segment. I wasn’t a big fan of Lesnar acting like he’d never heard of Lashley. This feels like a big showdown match, and Lesnar acting so dismissive of Lashley works against the big fight feel they should be going for. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get some verbal sparring from Paul Heyman and MVP leading up to the Rumble. I’m also hopeful that they stop confusing everyone with whether Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin are in the Hurt Business from week to week.
Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Chad Gable and Otis for the Raw Tag Titles: Winning the tag titles gave Gable and Otis a major boost. They went from being a middle of the road tag team to feeling instantly relevant. The move also puts the teams that lost to Orton and Riddle back in play as challengers for the new champions. It will be interesting to see if the move was made to give Orton and Riddle a team to conquer or if this will lead to them breaking up. It’s been a successful run, but I’m ready for them to become singles wrestlers again.
Doudrop vs. Bianca Belair vs. Liv Morgan for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble: Airing promos from each wrestler throughout the night was a nice touch to build up the match. The actual promos were generic, but they served their purpose. As far as the outcome, Morgan just had her run with Becky Lynch, and Belair is likely to challenge for one of the women’s championships at WrestleMania, so Doudrop seemed like the most likely candidate to win the match. It sets up a heel vs. heel match. I wonder if this will become a Triple Threat somehow. As much as I disagree with Lynch being slotted as a heel, there are no signs of her turning back, so it seems like an odd call to put her in a match where they are basically encouraging the fans to cheer her. Oh, and the Doudrop name is still ridiculous.
Big E vs. Seth Rollins: The best match of the night. Big E fans shouldn’t be panicking over him taking a clean loss to Rollins. Corey Graves told the story on commentary that Big E didn’t seem to be the same mentally since he lost the WWE Championship. So the story seems to be that Big E needs to get his mojo back, and I’m guessing that will happen when he either wins the Royal Rumble or an Elimination Chamber match.
AJ Styles vs. Austin Theory: A soft Hit. Grayson Waller attacking Styles gave their match on tonight’s NXT television show a little more juice. It didn’t do much for Theory, but at least they avoided having him take a clean loss.
Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH: What seemed to be a redemption story for ASH was actually a story of her frustration boiling over. I’m all for it. Ripley has been spinning her wheels in this tag team and belongs in the upper mix of singles wrestlers in her division. It will be interesting to see if ASH snaps and becomes more like her Sanity character or if the idea is for her to be an evil superhero character like Homelander on The Boys.
Omos vs. Nick Sanders: A good squash win. I was actually more impressed by Omos doing a better job of showing off a mean streak during his backstage segment with Reggie.
WWE Raw Misses
Alexa Bliss video: I was really hoping that Bliss would move away from the Lady Fiend gimmick coming out of her injury layoff. I’m fine with an unhinged Bliss character, but they always lose me with the hocus pocus nonsense.
Damian Priest, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins vs. Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, and Apollo Crews: A well worked filler match on a night when Raw was running opposite the college football national championship game. My guess is that the heel team’s surprising win sets up a rematch that the babyface trio will win as they fill even more time next week while running head-to-head the first Monday night NFL playoff game. The heels winning was surprising, but the problem is that Ziggler and Roode are so creatively damaged that their wins are more damaging to their opponents than they are helpful for their own credibility with viewers.